She Says… Burn it Off

Gone are the days of spending my days running errands or getting “my” stuff done while simultaneously hanging out with Owen. Sure, sometimes I still have to make a quick Target run or hit up the grocery store, but in general, Owen and I are BOTH much, much happier if the day can be structured around Owen’s favorite activities. I imagine once he gets older his portability will increase again, but I think right now we’re in the midst of the “we have an active toddler so YES we go to the playground every day and NO I can’t do things that require him to sit quietly in a chair.” It’s just not fair to him. The kid’s body needs activity and his neurons are firing a mile a minute. I want to encourage him to learn and grow and sharpen those motor skills and learn how to climb and jump and explore without fear. So to the playground we go.

We have a relatively small backyard and we are lucky to live very close to some awesome playgrounds, so generally every afternoon is spent at the playground. Our favorite one (intended for kids aged 8-12, of course, my little daredevil child only likes the “big kid” playplaces with huge slides and dangerous open spaces) is about 1 mile away, so at least once a day, unless it’s pouring, we walk the dog over there and he waits under a tree while Owen climbs and swings and chatters away to new friends and explores the trees and rolls down the hill and climbs and swings some more.

It’s a great way to spend the day. Fresh air, exercise, the whole nine yards.

But sometimes I would LOVE to be able to just skip the walking a mile. Or skip the whole “getting ready for the playground, make sure we have enough time before dinner, plan it all out” rigamaroll. I would love to be able to just open up our back door and play for 15 minutes. Or, even better, when Owen gets a little older, tell him to “go play outside” and not have to accompany him.

Right now we have a smattering of toys in the backyard. Trucks, a chalkboard easel, a tiny baby slide, a little tricycle I found on the side of the road with a “Free” sign on it. Between those things and a few dog toys, we’re usually good to go. But I can sense Owen getting a little bored with that selection, and I can’t blame him. Our playtimes out there don’t last for more than 10 minutes, usually. The kid needs to MOVE HIS BODY, and the baby slide isn’t cutting it.

So we’re getting him a BIIIIIIIG present for his upcoming 2nd birthday. A swingset.

Yes, I see plenty of skinned knees and boo boos in our future. But hey, we get them anyway; at least now we can be closer to home sometimes when they happen. I figure the earlier we buy this piece of equipment, the longer we can get use out of it. So, now seems like as good a time as ever!

After frequenting so many different playgrounds, I feel like I know exactly what he would like in one of his very own. But I also need to think about how this investment will grow with our family. And, you know, we have to be able to afford it.

I started Googling last night and found myself overwhelmed by:
– prices
– options
– installation/construction

So I need your help.

Does anyone have experience with buying swingsets? Where did you start? What did you get? Did you put it together yourself or have someone do it for you? Was it the company or a third party builder?

What parts of your swingset did/do your kids love? Which ones could they do without?



13 responses to “She Says… Burn it Off

  1. Elizabeth McCracken

    I’m interested too! We’re buying one next summer and starting to research now…. it’s very overwhelming! Please keep chronicling the decisions!

  2. I TOTALLY see what you mean about having a park super-close but sometimes you just want the convenience of it in your backyard. We go to the park almost every day too. Fortunately, we moved into a house that had one — which we weren’t even keen about six years ago (i.e., newly married, not thinking about kids yet) but now are pinching ourselves b/c this would have cost a couple grand to build — and it’s in excellent condition.

    It has two spaces for swings (we have the Little Tikes toddler swing in there now), an attached slide (and sitting area up top), and a sandbox (which needs fresh sand before Maya can dig in it — we just are in the process of getting that ready for her)… and I have a feeling this will occupy her for years to come. I could be wrong, but I think it has the essentials — we can swap out swings for cooler things later — or maybe attach a tire swing to a tree — but that will come later. But the space itself is perfect for us.

    I can’t wait to see what you guys get!

  3. Oh and this is wooden — I have seen some great plastic ones, too — Walmart has them for $700 or so — but I like the neutral wood b/c it blends!

  4. Get a Gorilla play set. They sell them at BJ’s (and maybe at Costco). They use poly-coated wooden beams so they are maintenance free and splinter-free. We bought it 2 years ago when my 5 year old daughter was turning 3 and it was the best purchase ever! My 16 month old loves to try and climb up the slide now! Tell Ben Dave says hi!

  5. Swingsets are the greatest, ever. Unfortunately, I’m no use on brands and shopping since I was lucky enough to get mine as a hand-me-down and only had to pay to move and install it.

    I asked my kids what the best parts of a swingset were. Rebecca says “slide” and “a ladder to get up.” Daniel, totally separately, said exactly the same thing. They both also chimed in with “bars to hang on.” (Ours has a little trapeeze-like bar that they like to hang on, and can now get their knees up and over.)

    If you can get the kind of slide that’s shaped like half a cylinder, that seems to be nice since they can’t fall off the sides as easily. Of course, mine climb over them, anyways. 🙂

  6. Check out CedarWorks… I played on this nonstop growing up and it lasted 20+ years!

  7. I am excited to see what you end up getting… we will probably get Eli a swingset for Christmas.

  8. So…uh, when do you do your errands if you don’t take the kid with you? I’m of the “kids have to learn that life sucks sometimes, why not start now?” mindset about making her run errands with me because there really isn’t any other way to get it done.

    No swingset ideas, other than everyone in my neighborhood has the Amish made kind. I don’t know if they like it because kids never use their own swing sets. It’s a law or something.

  9. This post came at an interesting time, because I just read this family post over at that was talking about how the French (supposedly) raise more calm, patient, polite children (she reviews a book called Bringing Up Bebe). I’m not sure whether their kids are as innately energetic… I assume so, and I wonder about the extent to which they control that, how they do it, and how it affects the children in the long run.

    So yeah, along the same lines as Kara, I wonder where the limit is, in terms of, “yeah kid, you gotta suck it up sometimes.” I’m sure you have to say that at one point or another every single day, anyway. But I would wonder about whether he will start to expect that he’s going to the park every day, and when you’re just too busy, if he will lose his temper over it. He doesn’t seem like the type though.

    I’m totally not sure which way is best, or what the perfect ratio of “suck-it-up” to “let’s-play” time is. Just curious what you think.

  10. When my son was turning 2 we got him the cheapest metal swing set Toys R’ Us sold. I think it was on sale for $199. It surely wasn’t my top pick, but at the time it was all we could afford since I was a SAHM. We brought it home in my sister’s SUV and my husband set it up by himself. It has a slide, see saw, rings, 2 regular swings, that swing that holds about 4 kids with the seats facing each other, and that other swing where the kids sit one behind the other. My son loved it then, and still uses it now (he is now 6 and his brother is 4). When the kids were babies we swapped out one of the swings and put in a baby swing. At the time I longed to get one of those huge, wooden, expensive swing sets, but looking back I am so glad we didn’t. Another outdoor toy my kids loved (and still do) is the sand and water table. They play with that thing for hours!

    I am also a “suck-it-up” kind of mom (glad I’m not the only one!). We always started our day (while my son was well rested and happy) running my errands. He got used to it and even cooperated most of the time, and came to realize that once we got home from the errands it was playtime! Of course I wouldn’t drag him around if he wasn’t feeling well or seemed out of sorts/extra crabby unless it was absolutely necessary. But yeah, generally we got “my” stuff done first.

  11. I have no comments for current swing sets, but I’m so glad you are getting one! As a kid, I loved mine (slides, various swings). We also had a giant truck tire sandbox which was great until our outdoor cats discovered it. Then it became the world’s biggest litter box.

  12. @Elizabeth, Will do 🙂 Hopefully I can do a little of the legwork for you!

    @Lissa10279, That is great to hear! Small but having just the right things may be the perfect way to go.

    @Goddess, Straight from the mouths of babes! That is super helpful. A slide is a must (though unfortunately I fear that is the most dangerous part of the whole shebang… Owen already likes to go down the little toddler slide on his knees so he faceplants at the bottom — and we haven’t even gotten to the stage of climbing over the side!).

    @Sophie, Gasp! They are so beautiful! Sadly, most (all?) are out of our price range, but MAN they are gorgeous.

    @Kara, Thanks to online banking, and a recent few months without very many doctor’s visits, thankfully we don’t have very many errands to run beyond the grocery store and Target! Also, my 4 day work week allows me to be kid-free for some time and I take advantage of that as much as possible. Believe me, he learns “life sucks” in other ways every day!

    @onefittwofit, Great point and interesting question! Going to write my next post on that right now…

    @Jennifer, This is great to hear that the little swingset fit your needs! It’s definitely something we’re considering.

    @JenXTeen, Yuck. I am totally grossed out by outside sandboxes for that very reason.

  13. I run very few errands with the wee one in tow….I shop less now and just don’t enjoy dragging her around the shops. Saves money!

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